Dallas Love Field was commissioned on October 19, 1917 as a training base for the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I. The airport is named for Army Lieutenant Moss Lee Love, who perished during flight training. Lt. Love had no connection to Dallas, but it was the norm at the time to honor Army aviators who perished in flight.
After World War I, Love Field continued as a military air base until the City of Dallas purchased it in 1927, clearing the way for civilian use. Its first paved runways were completed in 1932 and commercial air service grew throughout the 1930s.
The airport played an extensive role for the military once again during the World War II years of the early 1940s and then saw expansive growth as a passenger airport during the post-war boom. By 1965, the airport had new terminals and its second parallel runway.
In 1964, the FAA mandated the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth come to an agreement to build a major airport to serve the entire DFW Metroplex. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s opening in 1974 came on the heels of Love Field’s busiest year to date in 1973 and was meant to effectively end passenger service at Love Field.
The airport saw its slowest year in 1974 and even opened an ice rink and video arcade as the Love Entertainment Complex to maintain revenue. Love Field appeared on its way to closure, but the founding of Southwest Airlines in 1971 continued to breathe life in to Love Field as the fledgling airline refused to move its operations to DFW Airport.
After a lengthy legal battle among multiple parties, the Wright Amendment was instituted to restrict the operations of passenger aircraft at Dallas Love Field to locations within Texas and the neighboring states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
The stifling regulations of the Wright Amendment remained law until an effort was begun to repeal it in 2005. Certain restrictions were lifted, and the entire Wright Amendment was allowed to expire on October 13, 2014.
Love Field immediately saw drastic passenger growth and today is the 31st-busiest airport in the United States and busiest medium-hub airport despite its federally mandated cap of 20 gates and barring of international travel. In 2018, Love Field surpassed 8 million enplaned passengers for the first time.